Simpson discusses his new book on the evolution and sociology of retirement communities.
Architect, September 2015
In his new book, Deane Simpson, an architect who teaches at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, chronicles the rise of communities built for older people—not the infirm elderly, but the active or “young-old.” Demographic and political forces have combined to create this new life phase, also known as the Third Age—when people are retired yet in relatively good health, roughly from ages 55 to 75. In Young-Old: Urban Utopias of an Aging Society (Lars Müller Publishers, 2015), Simpson deciphers the appeal, the unusual urban logic, and the future of these communities, from a Dutch-style retiree village in Japan to the dispersed, mobile communities of American RV drivers.
Why were you drawn to young-old communities as a research topic?
It started on a road trip in the southern states of the U.S. that I went on with some fellow students in 1997. One evening we ended up in a bar in St. Petersburg, Fla., and we were the youngest there by about 40 years or so. We were given some really unwelcoming stares. It was this very strange domination of an area by what felt like, at the time, a singular age group. I became very intrigued by this social and spatial condition, where the rules of what I was normally used to were put aside.